Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Christian and the Social Reformer

It ought not be necessary for me to insist that the final aims of the churchman, and the aims of the secular reformer, are very different. So far as the aims of the latter are for true social justice, they ought to be comprehended in those of the former. But one reason why the lot of the secular reformer or revolutionist seems to me to be the easier is this: that for the most part he conceives of the evils of the world as something external to himself. They are thought of either as completely impersonal, so that there is nothing to alter but machinery; or if there is evil *incarnate* it is always incarnate in the *other people*—a class, a race, the politicians, the bankers, the armament makers, and so forth—never in oneself. There are individual exceptions: but so far as a man sees the need for converting *himself* as well as the world, he is approximating to the religious point of view. But for most people, to be able to simplify issues so as to see only the definite external enemy, is extremely exhilarating, and brings about the bright eye and the springy step that go so well with the political uniform.  This is an exhilaration that the Christian must deny himself. It comes from an artificial stimulant bound to have bad after effects. It causes pride, either individual or collective, and pride brings its own doom. For only in humility, charity, and purity—and perhaps most of all humility—can we be prepared to receive the grace of God without which human operations are vain.
—T. S. Eliot, Christianity and Culture

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